FACT CHECK: Americans For Prosperity Announces $6.1 Million Ad Buy To Push Totally False Green Jobs Claims


Both Politifact and the Washington Post Fact Checker have given the ad their worst ratings of “pants on fire” and four Pinocchios, respectively. Politifact found all three examples used to be false, with the ad stringing together “alarming” soundbites that are “ultimately ridiculous.” And the Washington Post writes “there is no excuse for these kinds of ads, which take facts out of context or simply invent them.”

Share Update

After pouring more than $8.4 million into bogus energy attack ads since November, the oil industry front group Americans For Prosperity announced yet another major ad buy of $6.1 million in eight states.

The latest ad is based on a set of mistruths about green jobs that have been widely debunked.

In the ad, AFP explains that “billions of taxpayer dollars spent on green energy went to jobs in foreign countries,” and uses four examples that supposedly prove that Obama’s clean energy stimulus created foreign jobs instead of domestic ones.

All four examples are either mostly or completely false.

1. The ad claims that $1.2 billion is being used to create solar jobs in Mexico. This point was completely made up by a random conservative blogger and has been repeatedly called out as a lie. This $1.2 billion loan guarantee was issued for a large, first-of-its-kind solar plant in California being developed by NRG. However, the blogger falsely wrote that the money was being used to create manufacturing jobs in Mexico.

In reality, the jobs created in Mexico had absolutely nothing to do with the loan guarantee. The only connection to Mexico was that some of the solar panels would be coming from a manufacturing plant located there. And even though the source of the panels had nothing to do with the decision to issue the loan guarantee, the company providing the panels, SunPower, explained that most of the panels were coming from America anyway.

2. The ad claims that a loan guarantee for an electric vehicle manufacturer went to jobs in Finland. This is also a made up story pushed by Fox News and conservative bloggers. In fact, all of the money used through the loan guarantee went toward building a U.S. manufacturing facility.

There were some jobs created in Finland during final assembly of the vehicles, but that was announced up front in 2009 when the loan guarantee was issued. According to the Department of Energy, all of the money set aside for Fisker’s next-generation vehicle manufacturing was issued for American operations.

3. The ad claims that tens of millions of dollars went toward building traffic lights in China. This is another murky claim that doesn’t hold up. In 2010, because of the lack of domestic manufacturing, the Department of Energy allowed some LED lighting technologies for stimulus projects to be sourced from overseas companies:

Federal agencies may waive the “buy American” requirement if they determine that a needed item is not available from domestic sources in sufficient quantities, that it would inconsistent with the public interest to comply, or that the cost is unreasonable.

The agency says that all of the investments made for lighting projects followed the Buy America requirements established in the stimulus package. To make the spin worse, the ad implies that the stimulus money went to install traffic lights within China. That is totally false.

4. The ad claims that $2.3 billion in clean energy stimulus incentives went to overseas firms. This figure is based on a 2010 Washington Times piece borrowing from an investigative story from American University that found stimulus dollars going to foreign companies developing projects within the U.S. The piece raised questions about how many jobs were being created overseas to build the technologies being deployed in the U.S.

After publishing that piece, investigative reporter Russ Choma told that the numbers showed more jobs being created in the U.S.:

It should be noted there were no farms that we could find that used turbines entirely built in China, so we can’t say for sure how much of this stimulus money went to create jobs in China. Some money definitely did, but it is safe to say more money went to creating jobs in the U.S. and Europe.

This latest ad brings the total amount spent by pro-fossil fuel groups to more than $24 million in just the first few months of 2012, based on a ThinkProgress analysis.

Jobs in green goods and services accounted for 3.1 million jobs in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, a study found that every dollar put into clean energy creates three-times as many jobs as investing in fossil fuels.

Watch AFP’s ad:

14 Responses to FACT CHECK: Americans For Prosperity Announces $6.1 Million Ad Buy To Push Totally False Green Jobs Claims

  1. A Concerned American says:

    I only have one question –

    Why is it that American media allows these blatant lies? Lies need to be removed from politics as much as money.

  2. M Tucker says:

    Lying liars all! It is to be expected and those who buy into the lies or simply wish to peddle the lies in order to make their point that all of President Obama’s energy policies hurt America’s economy will be delighted with the AFP ad. However, only the chronically naive would believe a message from AFP or any other Koch organization or form any fossil fuel company.

  3. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Honestly, why the outrage? When it comes to the Right, I follow the old adage, ‘How can you tell when a Rightwinger is lying? His lips move’. It never fails. Rapid eye-blinking is a dead give-away with the less well-trained.

  4. Sasparilla says:

    These guys (pretty much 95% or higher of big business) desperately wants Obama out…I’d guess its mission #1 for them, mission #2 is taking the Senate.

    I hope our voters can look through this garbage, at some point (i.e. with enough money and time) propaganda starts to sink in.

  5. Jay Alt says:

    The fact claims are wrong doesn’t insulate politicians from constituent pressure.
    During the Clinton Admin a local group made faulty claims about education initiatives. Goals 2000 was begun by GHW Bush and carried forward by Clinton. I met with my State Senator and explained that, outlined the many benefits to kids and used comments from teachers and principals to show that 4 claims against it were misguided & patently false.
    All that made no difference. He replied ‘But I’m getting lots of calls about this!’ This politician had never lost an election and neared retirement. It was a fine chance to do the right thing but that wasn’t on his radar. The bill died. Lesson:

    For your voice to make a difference, You Must Use It!

  6. cave_mann35 says:

    So the bribers of government officials are buying ads to lie? An un-American firm that trades with Iran shouldn’t be defended here! So a couple of guys that stole oil from Indians; A company that hates regulations so much, it caused the deaths of two teenagers is spreading more lies and falsehoods and there is no repercussions? Really? Guys that are so ungrateful for Obama’s policies growing their billionaire empire at a time when the entire country is failing deserve your pity, not your loyalty. These same guys fund ALEC, started the “grass roots” Tea Party movement (that’s a joke, because it’s corporate funded, unlike the Occupy Wall street movement tired of Wall Street’s influence in Washington) are the ones you look up to? Same company that forced it’s employees to vote GOP or get fired, you sure these guys are honest? These are the same guys that invited Justice Scalia and Thomas to speak at their “how to take advantage of Citizen’s United” seminars, and you think they have our best interests in mind? Hmmm. . . Unless you make over $200,000 a year, you shouldn’t support anything that Randolph and Mortimer Duke do, or you could wind up their next victim( Their net worth grew 3 Billion under Obama, but they are so ungrateful about making the extra cash, that his race stops them from thanking him or supporting him. I don’t want to drink the Kool Aid of a couple of oligarchs admitting they are “lying” to small minded voters to scare them into voting against their own financial interests. (

  7. Spike says:

    Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.

    No prizes for guessing whose advice they are following.

  8. matt k says:

    aren’t there laws regarding truth in advertising? Why is it illegal to say that Cheerios will cure cancer but it’s ok for ads to lie about politics?

  9. Celeste Kent says:

    It seems to me that there is enough “truth” in these issues that those who write the ads can cite fact after fact. AND the democrats have done the very same thing on the other side.

    So we either put up with these ads or do better next time to avoid such little “facts” when they do their aid.

  10. Hank10303 says:

    When people will lie to do you harm that you must be doing something right. If Obama was really as bad as republicans would have us believe then they would just let him self-destruct. Obviously they know that won’t happen – so lie to the low information voters and hope it sticks. Like the contract with America – where they broke every promise made in 2010.

  11. Hank10303 says:

    If you read the article only one claims has a remotely partial truth. What we know that is beyond reasonable doubt is that republicans have told blatant lies without one shred of evidence for well over 20 years now in their quest to control power. And they are getting more embolden with their deceit. I think we the people need to recognize this and wonder how did blatantly lying to the American public become so acceptable. More over the Christian right needs to do some soul searching on the topic of misrepresentation as it applies to their faith. And saying both sides do it is just an excuse that is also baseless when you consider that one side does color the truth from time to time and the other side abhors the truth. Those aren’t equal degrees of dishonesty.

  12. Alteredstory says:

    “freedom of speech” tends to be taken as “freedom to say whatever you want unless you’re under oath, and even then it’s only lying if you get caught”.

    It’s a problem. On the one hand, nobody wants to be put in a situation where the government decides what “truth” is, but on the other hand, we have crap like this.

  13. PG says:

    The Supreme Court’s First Amendment caselaw distinguishes between political speech (made to discuss politics/policy) and commercial speech (made to sell stuff). Political speech is very highly protected and is not regulated by the Federal Trade Commission. Commercial speech has a lower degree of protection.

    This has sometimes run into complications, as when NIKE claimed it was engaging in political speech about its sweatshops and Ralph Nader’s folks said it was commercial speech intended to sell more sneakers, but AFP’s ads are pretty clearly on the political speech side of the line.

  14. Methuselah says:

    Public shaming campaigns have worked before to pressure TV stations to refuse to run controversial ad campaigns, including ads containing blatant lies.

    Would Center for American Progress take the lead in launching such an action? It’s only going to get worse.